Thursday, October 2, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Free the Trees (not a green message)

1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

isaiah 61:1-4

I thought God spoke to me...yep definately he spoke to me. "This is what you are supposed to do, here is the call I have placed on you, now go and do it." Yep he spoke to me, I now have a life verse, which was as you know a huge relief because here I was a Christian for 13 years at the time and I had no... life...verse. It seemed everyone else had one, and they were great. Some began, "go into all the world" or "be strong and of good courage". Me? When people would ask me about my life verse, I would panic and tell them some proverb of a "dog returning to his own vomit" or something like that. But now, ha ha, I have a life verse. At least I thought I did until I read the gospel of Luke. Here comes Jesus, out of 40 days in the wilderness and he enters the temple and begins with this verse; "the spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon Me,". What!?! Well I can't use my this verse, I thought, it's Jesus'. But then the Spirit of God spoke to me. This passage in Isaiah wasn't speaking to me years back, it was speaking to Jesus who lives in me! How liberating. These ancient words from Isaiah speak to places deeper than me, but Jesus Christ in me cries out..."This is what I do." I free, I liberate, I bring beauty for ashes, I bring joy for sorrow, Me, I do this." How liberating for me, truly, I don't bear the obligation to free others, but Jesus does. He does this through me...and He does this through you. So grow mighty oaks, bring glory to your Lord God. Grow mighty in strength, grow deep in your roots of faith, grow green with the life, only he can bring. Grow. Grow. Grow. Let Him, who is worthy, plant you, nurture you, and prune you. Because then comes the fruit in your life. Freedom is yours "oak of righteousness" .

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Decline and Fall of Block Buster

"The End of Late Fees" was what I was promised. I rejoiced with the others who were dancing in the streets (at least on the commercial). But alas that promise was soon broken. I am talking about Blockbusters response to the competitiveness of Netflix and other online video rental options, now over 2 years ago. The media campaign was sensational, the end of late fees was the promise of a new era in video rentals but soon the catch phrase for a late movie was a "restocking fee". "I am curious," I asked the clerk, "aren't I being charged for returning a movie late?" "No Sir," replied the minion with a grin, "this is a restocking fee." I fought this for several months with local management only to get my Christmas gift card docked the fee. And that was the last day I have stepped foot in blockbuster a little over 1 year ago.
Unfortunately in an era when major corporations lack integrity to gain the competitive edge we, everyday consumers, have lost our voice. It's our fault however. Slowly one by one we moved away from the local mom and pop video stands towards the convenience of larger selection and cheaper prices. We gave the power to Blockbuster (or as I have referred to them, "the Beast") and now that power has turned on us, and we let them get away with going back on their word because we care more about saving a few bucks than honor.
Well I say no more!
I switched this year to Netflix for $4.99 a month and, for the impulse rental, Safeway. This hasn't been easy, because I too have been tempted, it has been difficult for this past year when I am paying the $4 late fee, but yet Safeway never promised me "no more late fees". So readers, I call you to rise up!
I believe it was Sir Winston Churchill who said, "
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense”
Unfortunately we are not just talking videos here but values, honor, integrity for how business, and even everyday life is to be managed. By continuing to pander to the consumer slavery, we are subjected to the mercy of those who are only concerned with what I buy from them and not how they should conduct good honest work. And so we begin with small battles, and only then can large wars be won. It will take resolve, it will be inconvenient, it will be hard, but it is right and it is good.
So rise up, cut up your blockbuster cards and drop them off at your local blockbuster in protest of this injustice, this act of villainy! Today make your voice heard. I will leave this rant with the words of President Theodore Roosevelt:
“The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”

"Behold the Angel Wore a Megadeath Shirt"

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Hebrews 13:1,2

I am sitting in a parking lot late into the evening, the faint glow of the chevron sign shows through my snow covered windshield. My car has no power as the alternator has decided to retire for the night and so I sit, about to experience the surreal theatrics that the storm will bring.

As I seek the warmth of a microwaved burrito the station attendant informs me my only option for shelter this evening is a local motel. The current rate is hourly, and I can only imagine the coin operated bed awaiting me as well as the roach invested bathroom, so I decide to brave the cold and slumber under a pile of my clothes in the front seat of my 1994 Oldsmobile Achieva.

The first guest to visit the station is an older man in a limo and an eager woman half his age, with half the clothes, buying a box of the finest wine chevron has to offer, apparently making arrangements to stay at said motel. This scene fades quickly as two groups of men flood the parking lot intending to engage in some urban warfare, only to be broken up quickly by the local law enforcement.

The time is shortly after 2 a.m. as the night winds howls, dumping more snow now on my Oldsmobile igloo. When I notice two men entering the gas station both in sleeveless t-shirts, torn jeans, 2-0-clock facial stubble, and hair which is partying in the back but upfront is all business. Through the iced windshield I notice the attendant pointing the men towards my car, and then they come.

As they knock on my drivers side window my heart rate excels yet my desire for personal possessions quickly fades. I have to open the door because the car, has no power, the men ask if I am having alternator problems and I respond, yes. They ask me to "pop the hood", then they take a look under the engine head to their pickup and return with some tools. They ask me if they can take my ailing alternator and rebuild it. Did I mention it is after 2 in the morning, the men have no sleeves on their shirts, and it's snowing? After twenty or so minutes my alternator is removed and I see the taillights of the truck heading through the blizzard conditions to parts unknown. From exhaustion I fade to sleep unsure of what the morning will bring.

Clunk. Thud. Scritch, scritch, scritch. I hear these noises in that place between sleep and awake as I open my eyes to the cold dark morning. I emerge from my car to see that the time is 6, the men have already reinstalled my alternator and tell me to have a safe drive home. I am dumbfounded. Two strange men who know not my story or my name have spent the hours between last call and cheerios rebuilding and reinstalling my alternator and then just as they came they are gone.

I have often thought of this night over the years, but it is my drive home that I remember most vividly. The sun was shining the earth was white and the Achieva is alive. As I'm driving I am overcome with both joy and guilt. Would I be as generous as the men at the station? Would I give up time, energy, money and sleep over a stranger? My pride quickly faded that morning but my selfishness lingers. Yet whenever I am in that moment of deciding to go about my own comfort or someone else's good I...